An exploration of the notion of followership in elite coach - athlete relationships
Davey, Christopher John
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The sociological analysis of the coaching process has been identified as a largely under-developed and under-researched area. Recent work has subsequently called for the notion of followership, as well as leadership, to be investigated. [n response, the aim of this study was to consider the concept of followership in elite coach-athlete relationships within the game of rugby union. The significance of such an investigation lies in generating greater understanding of coach-athlete relationships, particularly in terms of how and why athletes buy into coaches' directions and agendas. Detailed research questions included 'What does followership look like in practice?' 'How do coaches promote followership within the coaching environment?' and 'How do coaches know whether followership has been achieved?' A constructivist methodological approach was adopted within the rather broad paradigm of interpretivism: more specihcally, open-ended semi-structured interviews were conducted with four professional rugby union coaches. A grounded theory type approach was used to analyse the data, with the information gained from the interviews being expressed in narrative form. In so doing, an attempt has been made to move beyond the interview transcripts into interpretations of what the coaches actually said. Results revealed that despite not having given any real consideration to the notion of followership prior to the interviews, considering it to be a consequence of effective leadership, on reflection, all of the coaches acknowledged its importance in coach-athlete relationships. Although the coaches saw themselves as leaders, they emphasised the need for a group discourse even if they positioned themselves as 'first among equals' within it. The establishment of effective relationships between coaches and athletes and the social interaction involved in building such relationships was considered essential by all coaches. The findings are analysed in terms of both coaching and emerging'followership' literature.
MSc Coaching Science
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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